NOKIE FORNORO PICKS UP FIRST OF SEASON AT RAIN-DELAYED CAYUGA SPEEDWAY ISMA EVENT
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Nelles Corners, Ont. – Persistence paid off for all those involved with the running of the ISMA Lucas Oil-Helping Hands of America Super Series at Cayuga 2000 Speedway as Mother Nature did her best to get in the way. Saturday rain moved in after the qualifying to push the feature to Sunday, which didn’t look much better, weather-wise. But everyone was patient and waited it out. Just after 1 pm, the ISMA cars took to the 5/8th’s mile Canadian oval and despite dark clouds and thunder booming in the distance, the race went on. Reeder, PA’s Nokie Fornoro came by race leader Mark Sammut on lap 40 to take away that Canadian’s chance at a first win. But, Fornoro looked to be the class of the field and even Sammut indicated that fact. It’s possible the day’s wait was a pivotal element in Fornoro’s first win of 2005 in the Soule Racing 32 as after some changes and then the rain, the crew went back to the “out of the trailer” setup that worked to perfection.
Said Fornoro in victory lane, “We unloaded the car Saturday and you know how sometimes you hear some Nextel Cup teams say that they are good right off the trailer. Well we were excellent right off the trailer. We made some changes for the second warmup and the car went a little bit slower. We made some other changes for the heat race, which turned out pretty bad, but you always try to go better. So, after the rain we went right back to the “off the trailer setup” and on a green track like it was at practice, it was perfect and I hate to put it this way - the rest is history. We were a very fortunate because there are a lot of good cars in ISMA and we’re just happy we could bring our car to victory lane. I thank Danny (Soule) for giving me a chance in the car, Mike Jarrett of Helping Hands, NuFast, everybody on our team, SAVES Auto Body, Ken’s Collision, Bell Helmets, Pepsi, Haun Welding, and Jimmy D’s Machine … that’s one helluva motor I have. “
It was London, Ontario’s Mark Sammut who led for many laps and came so close to his first ever win which would have been in his homeland besides. Mark described his great run. “We started off real good and maybe I ran a little too hard trying to keep up with Randy. He was really going at the first. By the first yellow our right rear was starting to go away and I had to slow it down a little bit after that. I tried to stay to the bottom of the racetrack to make them go around. We ran forty laps like that and Nokie was the only guy that could get by. We sure didn’t have a car for him. He was really hooked up a lot better than we were. We’ll take second after the way our season started out. It’s just like a win for us really. We’re more than happy to take that and go on to Sandusky. This is our highest finish and by far our best run. It wasn’t perfect but it was awful close.”
Rounding out the top three was another Canadian who was also looking for win number one was Mike Lichty. “We were good at the beginning and for about the first ten laps,” said the young driver. “After that the car just got real loose. We were trying to hold them off but we were sideways there near the end. I’d just like to thank everybody that helps us out - Lucas, PATCO, and the whole gang. They did a great job. “
Sammut, Rick Wentworth and Jon McKennedy took home the heat wins on Saturday and just before the feature could get underway, a torrential downpour flooded out any chance of finishing that night. Early morning rain on Sunday came to a halt and gave the racetrack the window it needed to finish the show. Randy Ritskes took off in the lead as the green fell as Mark Sammut chased.
A quick yellow for a Dave McKnight trip off the track slowed the field and pitting with McKnight were Joey Payne, Kyle Carpenter and Justin Belfiore. All restarted at the rear.
Ritskes got to lead one more lap before the second yellow fell for Justin Belfiore and Bobby Haynes who tangled off turn two. Both were hooked.
The Bruce Budnick-owned 88 was once more the leader trailed by Sammut, Pat Abold, Mike Lichty and Chris Perley among others.
But just as the yellow fell on lap 18 for a spin by the V2 of Eric Shirey, the leader suddenly pulled into the pits with a broken torque arm mount. The great run for Ritskes unfortunately ended here with a broken torque arm mount.
Sammut now took over the point with Lichty getting by Abold for second, as Chris Perley was fourth. Jon McKennedy, Fornoro, Wood, Wentworth and McKnight jockeyed for position behind.
At the halfway mark Sammut had Lichty right on his tail as Perley and Abold followed them. Nokie Fornoro, however, was quietly making his way toward the front and was now fifth.
The dark clouds moved by and everyone was now concentrating on the 32, which moved into fourth and then into third on lap 37. At this juncture Sammut had moved away from Lichty and was giving it his all, trying to run and hide. On lap 39 Fornoro moved into second past Lichty and in one more circuit, he slid by Sammut for the lead. It was all Fornoro from there on in. Sammut fought off Lichty for second while Perley and Abold fought for fifth.
At the checkered, the Helping Hands of America 32 was first, trailed by Sammut, Lichty, Perley and Abold.
Perley congratulated Fornoro on his win saying, “I’m glad to see Nokie get one. He worked for it. He was the best car today. I would have liked to see Sammut get one. He’s been knocking on the door for so long. But a good second will keep him going. We finished fourth and I guess that’s okay. I’m just glad we got the race in. “
Fifth place finisher Pat Abold commented, “I guess a top five is a top five. I wasn’t real happy. The car was going good at the beginning of the race and then it just got loose on me. There was a lot of water coming out of the track in the corners. The car just went away after the second caution. It was terrible. But, we finished in the top five, we’re in one piece and you can’t do more than that.”
McKennedy, McKnight, Wood, Martel and Wentworth finished up in the top ten.
ISMA heads to Sandusky’s Hy-Miler weekend on July 29 and 30.
SUMMARY - Event #6 - Cayuga Speedway - Run 7/17
Heat 1: Mark Sammut, Randy Ritskes, Dave McKnight, Pat Abold, Scott Martel, Eric Shirey
Heat 2: Rick Wentworth, Mike Lichty, Chris Perley, Lou Cicconi, Kyle Carpenter, Justin Belfiore
Heat 3: Jon McKennedy, Joe Petro, Nokie Fornoro, Russ Wood, Joey Payne, Brad Noffsinger, Bobby Haynes Jr.
Feature (50): 1. Nokie Fornoro (32), 2. Mark Sammut (78), 3. Mike Lichty (84), 4. Chris Perley (11),5. Pat Abold (26), 6. Jon McKennedy (79), 7. Dave McKnight (94), 8. Russ Wood (29),9. Scott Martel (97), 10. Rick Wentworth (10), 11. Joe Petro (33), 12. Kyle Carpenter (9), 13. Brad Noffsinger (74), 14. Lou Cicconi (75), 15. Eric Shirey (V2), 16. Joey Payne (4), 17. Randy Ritskes (88), 18. Bobby Haynes Jr. (44), 19. Justin Belfiore (8).
Nelles Corners, Ont. (July 14, 2018) – Earlier this season, Dan Bowes listed that one of his primary goals in 2018 was to 'get that elusive first ISMA win'. In 2017, his sixth season with the traveling group, he was ever so close to achieving that goal. The 2011 ISMA Rookie of the Year was making his presence known last season scoring fast times at Jennerstown, Delaware and Oswego.He ended up with a fourth place in the competitive ISMA driver point standings but that coveted win did not come despite the fact he had nine top ten finishes, two of them podiums and nothing less than a 12th place.
Oswego, NY (July 6, 2018) – From 1976 to 2009, the International Supermodified Association headed north of the border to the Cayuga Speedway, near Cayuga, Ontario, sometimes 2 or 3 times a season, for a total of 27 events.Many of supermodified’s legendary pilots took home checkereds at the .625-mile oval (1 K) in those years.Names such as Bentley Warren, Gary Allbritain, Jim Winks, Warren Coniam, Eddie Bellinger, Steve Gioia Jr., and Doug Heveron etched their names into the Cayuga record books from 1976 to 1985.
WINCHESTER, NH (June 30, 2018) – Mike Lichty didn't start his day well at all at the twice-rained out Carquest Genden Auto Parts ISMA 75 at Monadnock Speedway on Saturday, but he certainly ended the day in fine style. Starting back in 15th, he worked his way through the field at the new venue for ISMA, and into the lead on lap 56. It was a career fifteenth feature win for the Canadian driver and the first in the short ISMA season to date.
Lancaster, NY (June 2, 2018) – Canadian Mark Sammut has been an ISMA stalwart for 21 years, a congenial competitor who has weathered the up and down nature of racing. Last August he took his biggest win, a $10,000 payday at what he calls his home track, Delaware Speedway, to the approval of a huge throng of fans.
Saturday night at Lancaster Speedway, he picked up his seventh-career ISMA win, to the cheers of many Buffalo area fans who had seen him run and win years ago in his Can-Am midget. He quipped in victory lane when he spoke of that midget win, that he wasn't buying a dragster to win in another division at Lancaster! But he did mention that the car he was driving was 21 years old and it has served him well. The new car that had been debuted last year, has gone back to the drawing board.